We are living in extraordinary times. The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under the sun. But while that is certainly true, living through a pandemic is new for most of us. It has been a challenging time as we receive changing information daily and must navigate our relationships, how we conduct business, make tough decisions regarding our children’s education, and what we should or shouldn’t do based on something we can’t even see. I know for myself, I sometimes wake up and everything feels so surreal – I never imagined living through this type of situation.
But on the flip side, I never would have imagined being invited to attend a software boot camp at 57 years of age, staying up until 2:00 in the morning for three months straight, learning completely new technologies with young adults less than half my age. Yet, here I am, job offer in hand and I start on Monday. That also feels surreal. But it also shows that God has never stopped working in our lives for our good.
We do have much to celebrate even in the midst of pandemics and hurricanes. Some of our members have been battling health issues and we have seen rays of sunshine peeking through the clouds as they report improvements. Others are in the midst of various battles, but have their fellow Carrollton League of Writers praying for them and cheering them on. And it’s important to note that as a group, we have accomplished so much this year, despite having to forego meeting in person.
Our Accomplishments over the last year have been many. In no particular order:
Three day writing retreat at Lake Texoma
Started Tuesday Night Hangouts
Halloween potluck costume party
Valentine’s Day party/contest – Ed is our winner!
Our newest member, Ellie Crippen, made her grand entrance into the world on July 27 – Congratulations to Will and Jennifer for the birth of their beautiful baby muggle!
Monthly member spotlights
Monthly presentations by industry professionals, free to the public
Write-Ins at Café Brazil and Kimzey’s Coffee
Our Facebook Group increased to 193 members
New website (Thanks Jackie!)
Director took a three month sabbatical to attend a software boot camp – board members stepped in and CLW ran smoothly – which speaks to the leadership of the board and the solidarity of our group!
Many of our members attended WORDFest virtually – We are thankful for W.O.R.D. and the creativity that allowed them to offer a weekend of great writing-related programming online!
Dallas Story Teller’s Guild presented Ghost Tales, a two-day spook-tacular event. CLW’s very own Steve was one of the storytellers.
In October, CLW participated in Writers in the Field and had a great time! Scott presented on ham radios and Phil on renewable energy.
Our first short story contest happened in 2020 with the following winners:
Author: Sandra Payton
Title: Leaves Are People, Too
Author: Ed Wooten
Title: Defining Moments
Author: Steve McCluer
Title: The Vampire Interviews
An anthology committee was formed and is working hard on the logistics of our 2nd anthology.
Second Annual Arianne “TEX” Thompson Flash Fiction Contest (Judge Amber Royer) Winners – Artis, Scott, and Jennifer
Amazingly FUN Christmas party
Peggy launched “The Little Ladybug”
Andrea was published in an anthology “The Day We Came Back: Future Reports After the Pandemic” in April.
Andrea is also up for awards in the 22nd International Latino Book Awards in two categories: the Rudolfo Anaya Latino Fiction Book and Best novel – historical fiction, for her novel Las Mujeres de la Guerra (The Women of the War).
Scott’s brainchild, the Carrollton League of Writers blog, has been launched.
Monthly birthday celebrations
Phil and Nancy renewed their wedding vows on horseback and shared their joy with CLW.
Ross was published in the “The California Numismatist” and won two awards: the Virginia Hall Literary Award for medals (1st place) and the Charles Kappan Literary Award for articles on Exonumia (2nd place). The article was “The Perilous Pigeon Post” in the Fall 2019 issue.
Board of Directors elections were held.
Bylaws have been completed, voted upon, and are now official.
Breakfast outing to Mom’s Café to celebrate Sandy’s birthday
CLW “Writers Health Month” with speakers on mental health, nutrition and ergonomics
Our second anthology (professionally edited) will launch in time for Christmas giving.
Supported Amber Royer’s book launch: Fake Chocolate
Nancy had two full manuscript requests for Alien Neighbors.
WORD Historian – Jennifer did a presentation for Granbury Writers’ Bloc on “Using Archives to Build a Better Story.”
Nancy did a presentation for TEKsystems software bootcamp on Copyright and Fair Use for SW Developers.
First Anniversary Bash with a western theme was a great success!
We always want to give back to our community, and during our second year we found several ways to do so:
Food pantry donations
Donations to the Rwandan orphans – educational fundraising went instead to basic survival needs because of the pandemic
Participated in our host church’s school supply drive
Member support: meals provided for Will and Jennifer
But out of all of our accomplishments, I am most proud of our unity. It saddens me to see so much divisiveness in our country right now. Our writers group is a microcosm of our country, and we have chosen to come together to love, support, and encourage one another, despite our differences. I can’t help but think that if our behavior was duplicated in the real world, what a wonderful world it would be!
I want to leave you with this…while there are real concerns for each one of us that we are struggling to address during this difficult time, there is also hope and responsibility. We have the hope of a better day, and I believe that is in the not too distant future. We will come out the other side and we will have a strength of spirit that we are cultivating during this time of national crisis, that we will possess the rest of our lives. Our parents and grandparents experienced this during World War Two. I can hear my mother’s words in times of trouble, “We are survivors…” and “It’s not a forever thing.” We will get through this, and it won’t last forever.
And we as writers also have a responsibility. When I have my engineering hat on, I am seeking effective and efficient solutions to problems. But I have found that writing is an effective and efficient solution as well – to the problems brought about through our humanity. It may not fix the problems, but it helps them to be easier to endure while we work through them. I want to challenge each of you to a renewed spirit in your writing. Rather than allowing our external circumstances quench our spirit, let’s rise above it and use our writing gifts to bless others. Let’s look back at this year in our writing group’s history and remember it as the time we all continued to “fight the good fight and write the good write.”
A special thanks to the folks at Carrollton Church of the Nazarene for allowing us to use their fellowship hall – they have blessed us beyond measure with their generosity.
It’s been a challenging year but I’m looking forward to another one as we travel this writing journey together – I wouldn’t want to do it anywhere else than with the Carrollton League of Writers!
Friends are the Family You Choose!